I made a recent difficult discovery about myself. My spiritual and emotional journey led me to a place that I did not want to visit. This issue may be at the core…or at least close to the core of many of the other issues I’ve discussed on this blog. I’ve recently realized that I have an overwhelming sense of inferiority.
inferior – less important, valuable, or worthy (dictionary.com)
I’ve talked before about my feelings of inadequacy…not being good enough. But I’ve never really explored a deeper issue…the feeling of actually being “less than.”
The reason I say that my feelings of inferiority are “overwhelming” is because these feelings reach so many aspects of my life. Whether it is professionally or personally, there are areas of my being that feel less valuable as compared to others. I suspect that part of it may be from filtered cultural messages, although I rarely blame any difficulties I have on my race. But the fact is that there are racial and social disparities that exist because of this country’s imperfect past. Being a woman factors into this as well.
However, I choose to look at my gender and race as a part of the whole issue, integrated with other mixed messages I received growing up. If I chose to believe that my feelings of inferiority are solely because of my race, why is it that I sometimes feel inferior to other African Americans?
So the bigger issue is most likely a failure on my part to recognize my own inherent worth.
I may have talked about this before, but I used to think that gaining more and more education would somehow make my worth increase and those feelings of inferiority decrease. As I completed each degree, I longed to be able to say these words:
I belong here.
Wherever “here” is. Whether it is in a certain professional or personal relationship, I wanted to feel like I belonged…that I was important…that I was valuable.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am neither ashamed nor do I have any regrets for going as far as I have in my education. I believe that this was set in motion to fulfill a specific purpose in my life and in the lives of those around me. But the interesting thing is that it wasn’t until I was faced with the possibility of not finishing my doctorate that I began to examine and reflect upon what would happen if I never finished and the dream floated away.
On the personal level, I have often felt that I am “less than” in love and friendship relationships. So-called “friends” have treated me like crap because I perceived their lives as being so much more important than mine. And I don’t even want to think about how my feelings of being less valuable have played out in romantic relationships. Moreover, my belief in “social norms” has conditioned me to feel that my current life status is less important than others. So basically those with traditional families (husband, wife, children) are more important that my situation (single, no human children, caring for elderly parent).
I can go on and on about the reasons why I have these feelings of inferiority. There is nothing or no one to blame…only an understanding of what is. But is there a cure or a resolution, or even a program I can work through to get past it?
I will share some insights I have about this in part 2. Stay tuned…